Well those of you who have been following my blog for a while will know that I have been struggling with Dick Hess's Yak for about a year now. In fact, I wrote about it way back in my fifth blog entry (I am up to #70 now)! I bought it from Eureka on the recommendation of David, the owner, back in December of 2008. He warned me that it was quite difficult, but I figured I could handle it.
It turns out that I could not handle it, and I worked on this damn puzzle on-and-off for a year. I even bought other Dick Hess puzzles of the same variety in the hopes that they would give me some insight: first The Whale (left) in September 2009 and then Brontosaurus (below) in January 2010.
Well thanks to solving these two puzzles, I was finally able to solve The Yak! And it was every bit as satisfying as I hoped it would be. The solution is very tricky due to the many futile things that you can do while trying to solve it. I kept thinking I was discovering a key move that would help, but then it would lead to a dead end.
They are all nicely crafted puzzles: The Yak that held up very well to the many hours I spent working on it. The wire is a nice gauge that resists forcing but is still light and elegant. The finish still has a great shine to it.
While The Yak is an awesome puzzle, I'd definitely suggest trying out The Wale and/or Brontosaurus before trying this one. Even though Brontosaurus is rated a 10/10 difficulty, the same as the Yak, I found it to be quite a bit easier. I think The Whale took me about 30 minutes and Brontosaurus took me about 45 minutes.
The Whale helped me understand what the pre-solve state of this group of puzzles looked like, since there weren't very many options for how to proceed other than to discover it. This helped focus my attention and is why this puzzle is a bit easier than the others. Still, I think most people would find this fairly challenging. I wish the key move was slightly easier to execute on this one: I felt like I needed a very small amount of force at one point, but I may have not been lining it up quite right.
The Brontosaurus is quite similar to The Whale and now that I know how to solve it, I am surprised at how long it took me to figure it out. The move is not that tricky once you've done The Whale. Perhaps I wasn't focused enough or in the right frame of mind at first.
All three are related to a topological construct named Borromean Rings, where three rings are linked together but removing any one ring will unlink the remaining two. When you look at each of these three puzzles, you will notice that none of the pieces are actually linked directly: each component is linked completely around another component, much like this diagram.
This, at least for me, made these puzzles quite confounding at first. They seem to thwart you at every turn until you think logically about how to approach them. I would highly recommend all of them!
Well this entry is a little out of order: there are a few items in my backlog at the moment, but I was so thrilled to have finished it that I wanted to write it while I was still in the moment. Woo hoo!
I've been collecting mechanical puzzles since 2008. My favorite types of puzzles are puzzle boxes and disassembly puzzles, though I also enjoy interlocking solids, assembly puzzles, and pretty much everything else.
In the interests of full disclosure: I make a small percentage from purchases made through links in my blog to Amazon and Puzzle Master. I figure if I'm sending them traffic, I might as well get a piece of the pie.